German Government Declines to Waive Visa Requirements for Israelis

Although West Germany now admits visitors from many countries without prior issuance of a visa, she is not willing to relax visa requirements for Israeli nationals, Federal Minister of the Interior Dr. Gerhard Schroeder has in formed the Social Democratic opposition.

In sponsoring a Social Democratic motion to abolish the need for entry visas in the case of Israeli visitors, Bundestag deputy Dr. Karl Mommer argued that “we have moral obligations toward the citizens of Israel that should prompt us to handle this matter as liberally as possible.” He pointed out that the moral benefit gained by unilateral abrogation of the mandatory visa requirement would outweigh any disadvantage through the possible influx of undesirable elements.

In his reply, the Minister of the Interior recalled that a considerable number, of “illegal returnees” from Israel had come to Germany, mainly in 1953, with 800 of them falling back upon German public welfare assistance in Foehrenwald Camp alone. Although Israel had declared its willingness in principle to take back any of its citizens expelled from Germany, technical transportation difficulties had made it impossible, with one single exception, to deport to Israel the “illegals” against whom expulsion orders had been issued and who were not prepared to leave Germany voluntarily. Therefore, the Minister argued, the unilateral abrogation of visa requirements would saddle German public welfare agencies with heavy costs “and probably would not correspond to the interests of the State of Israel.”

Minister Schroeder, who stressed repeatedly that these “illegals” had not “formerly lived in Germany, “failed to mention that almost all of them had been in German concentration or DP camps. At the same time however, he made it clear that Israeli nationals who had been residents of Germany prior to the Nazi era would encounter no difficulty in securing tourist or transit visas.

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